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Weston Wagons West - Ep. J14 - Mary Kinnick and her large family initially sought survival in Ohio in the 1820s

Updated on July 23, 2014
DrBill-WmL-Smith profile image

Dr. Bill's first passion is family history. His second is a passion for creating family saga, historical fiction stories that share it.

Were these building there when Westons and Kinnicks were?

Historic Downtown Morristown. Building dating from 1807.
Historic Downtown Morristown. Building dating from 1807. | Source

William Kinnick stayed with his mother and siblings for a few years in Belmont County

23-year-old William Kinnick had expected to return to Maryland shortly after getting his mother and siblings settled in and near the small village of Morristown, near central Belmont County, along Zane's Trace that they hoped would become part of the National Road. The westward movement would surely follow this route and bring prosperity to them and the region, they believed. The death of his father on the trip from Maryland into Belmont County, as they crossed the Ohio River, changed that, of course. He ended up stay more than five years as they struggled to eek out a living in this place. They were not wealthy and assumed jobs would be available. Many others, it seemed, had made the same assumptions, and were already taking the few jobs actually available.

They soon learned that splitting up and finding work at inns, taverns, and on farms would provide the best chance for each to help themselves and the rest of the family. William and 14-year-old Mary found work on the James Triplett farm not far outside Morristown. 17-year-old Sarah found work as a housekeeper at the Red Bull Inn in Morristown. 18-year-old Dorcas, her mother, Mary, and the younger children were taken in by the Dallas family, who had a large farm on the west edge of Morristown. They helped with the large and growing family and worked in the fields and orchards, where ever they were told to go and what to do.

Some of the group they came with quickly found their own land, since they had the money to start farming, and moved off to the places they found. Karl Weston initially did some blacksmith work for the Dallas family and a couple of merchants, but wanted to establish his own business, as soon as possible. The tanning industry had a couple of shops in town that were able to use his services, from time to time, as well as some budding material and clothing manufacturing shops. These were not terribly reliable, but each job helped him keep moving forward toward his goal. The work on the National Road had not yet begun, nor been authorized by a Congress that seemed to always drag out decisions much longer than the people wanted them to.

National Road markers, miles from Cumberland

The author on a visit to the area in 2002
The author on a visit to the area in 2002 | Source

The National Road was to move westward across Belmont County in the 1820s

The Village of Morristown was founded in 1802 expecting the National Road to pass through following portions of Zane's Trace that were laid out and being used. It was very rough and unfinished when the National Road got as far as Wheeling on the east side of the Ohio River in 1818. Morristown, in Union Township, was about 10 miles further west from the Belmont County seat of St. Clairsville, itself about 10 or so miles west of Wheeling along the established route west.

The National Road west of Wheeling was delayed by the many political issues including the War of 1812. Now primarily U.S. 40, and often Interstate 70, the road west was authorized by Congress in May 1820 and built in jumps and starts over the years. The National Road was built through the Village of Morristown in 1826. In 1833 Morristown contained four taverns, four or five mercantile stores, two tanneries, a carding machine and a fulling mill.

Karl Weston finally set up a blacksmith shop on the west edge of the village of Morristown, in anticipation that the National Road would be extended west past there, as planned. Karl Weston decided to locate his shop near the large farm of one of the earliest settler families in the area, James and Fanny Dallas. The Dallas family had come from Virginia by oxcart in 1800 and he had built a hewed log house. By 1820, they had 9 children and added 4 more through the first two-thirds of the 1820s. Mary Kinnick and her family found refuge there, as well, helping with the children and in the fields. By mid-year of 1822, single mother, Mary Kinnick, was about 49, with children, Dorcas, 22, Sarah, 21, Mary, 18, Walter W., 12, Ann, 10, and Catherine, 8. Of the Dallas children, the oldest was Joseph, aged 21, followed by Elizabeth, 18, James Alexander, 16, Cynthia, 13, Eli, 11, John Walter, 9, Lemuel, 7, Catherine (they caller her Kitty), 5, Sally, 3, and the twins, Sarah and Eliza, 1, in 1822.

Panoramic view, looking north from the western edge of Morristown, Oh

Scene looking north from near the Dallas farm, west of Morristown
Scene looking north from near the Dallas farm, west of Morristown | Source

Did Sarah work at a place like this?

Likely early tavern/inn in downtown historic Morristown... buildings market 1807 into 1830s
Likely early tavern/inn in downtown historic Morristown... buildings market 1807 into 1830s | Source

The first marriage in our families of interest came in November of 1823

Joseph Dallas and Dorcas Kinnick were married in the Dallas family home in November of 1823, just west of Morristown, in Union Township, Belmont County. Their first son, John, was born there in May of 1824. In the spring of 1825, Joseph, Dorcas, and young John moved northwest a couple of days travel into virgin farm land in Tuscarawas County. Their first daughter, Francis, was born there in March of 1826. In the spring of 1824, William Kinnick finally returned to Maryland.

Karl Weston was careful not to become personally involved with the young ladies in the home of his principal client, James Dallas. While he enjoyed their company, and did celebrate occasion events with the family, he felt that keeping his relationships purely professional was in his best self-interest. He did, however, meet a Miss Lacy Adkins, the daughter of a merchant in town, who did tickle his fancy. They were married on New Years Eve, December 1824. Their first son, Jasper, was born in March of 1826.

Sometime in 1827, while Sarah was still working as a housekeeper at the Red Bull Inn, she met a man from Kirkwood Township, George Tracy, to the west of Union Township. It was not long before they were married on the first of January, 1828 and moved to his farm in Kirkwood Township. Shortly thereafter, Karl and Lacy Weston had their second son, Arly, born in April, 1828, as they closed out the decade.

Learn more about the Kinnick extended family

Historical notes by the author

All members of the Weston family are fictional, of course. Each Kinnick, Dallas, and Tracey were historical figures, but were used here fictitiously. The relationship between the Kinnick and Weston families therefore were created fictionally for this story. Mary Kinnick and her children (as well as the Dallas children) were historical, but the details of their birth dates and early lives are filled in fictionally. They each played key roles in the life of Walter W. Kinnick, a 3rd great-grandfather of the author. Each of the relationships within which these historical figures appear in these episodes is totally consistent with known historical facts for each such person in the official records of Maryland.

New fictional names in this episode, such as Lacy Adkins and Arly, are based on names appearing in the actual census records of Belmont County in 1820. Information about the National Road and Morristown was gleaned from Wikipedia articles and other readings. Also relied on was continuing family history research as this is a direct line ancestry of the author, of course. If interested in more details, see the link, below, for a visit by the author and his wife, to this area of Ohio.


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    • DrBill-WmL-Smith profile image

      William Leverne Smith 3 years ago from Hollister, MO

      Thank you, Jackie. Much appreciated! Thanks for stopping by... ;-)

    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 3 years ago from The Beautiful South

      Very interesting and unique writing. Up and shared.

    • DrBill-WmL-Smith profile image

      William Leverne Smith 3 years ago from Hollister, MO

      Thank you for your visit, Midget. I love making use of the research to share a new view of the family of old. ;-)

    • DrBill-WmL-Smith profile image

      William Leverne Smith 3 years ago from Hollister, MO

      Shyron, thank you for stopping by and reading my saga episode. What fun! ;-)

    • midget38 profile image

      Michelle Liew 3 years ago from Singapore

      A lovely historical account! You really went through trouble to obtain the research! Thanks for sharing!

    • Shyron E Shenko profile image

      Shyron E Shenko 3 years ago from Texas

      Bill, you just wrote a family tree saga. Very interesting and voted that way.

      Thank you for sharing this family's story.

    • DrBill-WmL-Smith profile image

      William Leverne Smith 3 years ago from Hollister, MO

      You are always reliable. Thanks for the read! ;-)

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Always an enjoyable read, Bill, like curling up in bed with a good book. Thank you for the adventure.